With Etxepare Basque Institute’s support, Basque writer Juan Kruz Igerabide visited Mexico from November 23rd to 27th, where he attended the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL Guadalajara). Besides presenting his last novel Ez Lemaio. La Quema de Mondragón, the autor, recently awarded the Children and Young Adult’s National Literature Award, participated in several literature encounters. Back from the journey, we asked him to share his impression of the fair with us.
Before travelling to Guadalajara, you stopped in Mexico City.
That’s right, I visited the capital on November 23rd. I participated in a literary encounter with students and professors from the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). They’d already read Ez Lemaio. La quema de Mondragón, which encouraged an interesting conversation among us. They connected the activity to the Euskaraldia initiative, which had just started that day. I also did interviews with journalists.
After that, at FIL, which activities did you take part in?
On the first day, I took part in an encounter with university students about the book Ez Lemaio in the fair area. Some young people and professors asked me questions about it, and it turned into a good debate. On the second day, I visited a school called Reforma for an encounter with high school students. They had already read not only my book, but also some earlier ones. That was a very well-organized activity. The last day, I offered a poetry reading in the Salón de la Poesía (Poetry Hall) area. The hall was full, and the presenter did a very good job. I overheard what some of the comments and it seemed to me that the audience was grateful. In addition, I gave more than twenty interviews to newspapers, radio and TV.
How did the fair welcome you, in general?
I had a very warm welcome. The organization received me with interest and attention. The journalists there were also very interested. Except for two cases, everyone had read my book and taken notes. Some had even read other books. They also asked questions about the Basque Country and our language. The Basque Government delegate, Ibon Mendibelzua, and journalist Sandra Villanueva helped me a lot, taking me to see the city in our spare time.
How would you describe FIL Guadalajara? What sets it apart from other smaller fairs?
The fair is very dynamic, and it brings together all the Spanish literary world, while setting aside a small space for other languages. In general, the areas of the fair are very lively, and you can constantly see new commercial and literary relationships being formed. People approach you with ease and great interest, and the timetables are strictly adhered to.
If I have to come up with something negative, it would be that the easy-to-read commercial literature that is now so prevalent around the world is also becoming popular at FIL; I’m talking about the kind of literature produced by social stars, and not literary stars.